Tuesday, the start of smartglasses, known as North, finally stopped its Focals product, but in a very unique way: The team simply opened a pair of stores and invited the public.
The flagship store is located in the quiet, exclusive border of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, NY, while the second store is in Toronto. For now, it is the only stores that the north seems to be developing their retail store that can see a bigger launch in the future.
Go past the store, what do you see how it looks like a regular glasses store, with large spaces that separate the displays of three different styles of glass. For the uninitiated, you would never know that the store actually houses what the company hopes to be a regular portable technical accessory.
Once inside you are greeted by a team wearing northern shirts, every check to see if you have reserved a visit through the company's website or if you are just a shopping customer (both are welcome ). If you are not already registered on the site, you must undergo a short notification process that is painless, but perhaps a bother if you have just entered the street to see which north is actually selling. To avoid the installation process, you can simply switch to one of the monitors and see a projection demo of what the smart glasses offer with regard to visual interfaces and information.
But if you go through the sign-up process, a team member will take you to an upstairs level that includes a number of small spaces for dimensioning as well as another open space where customers can try on different versions of the Focals product.
The size process is quite straightforward: First you sit in a chair in front of a series of cameras that capture your face dimensions to determine the correct frame size. The prisoners are incredibly correct, because the cameras actually build a 3D model of your entire face. Then you are great for the ring control used with Focals. There are eight sizes in total and according to a company president, the frames and the ring (which only come in black) meant to be unisex, for now. As for the frames, you have an option of black, black with a slight translucent dimming at the bottom of the frame and a turtle design.
And if you're not interested in walking around in what looks like a normal pair of specs, Focals also comes with clip-on shadow attachments in two different styles that look surprisingly fashionable.
Okay, now that you've reviewed the size and the frame selection, the only thing left is the experience. How is it? Well, while I'm not necessarily blown away by the display. It's similar to what I've seen in some company-focused products in recent months. Nevertheless, I think this is a pretty solid start for the baseline, modern smart glasses with real use. The glasses, which use a small projector on the right framed frame to beam the interface visually in your view, are easy and when in use there is absolutely no indication for third parties that you are viewing a visual interface.
Also on the arm of the frame is a small speaker that pumps out audio calls when browsing through the system to do things like checking weather, checking your calendar or answering a text message (and yes, you can send back emojis).
The surprise feature I did not expect was Alexa's presence, as you call long with the button on top of the ringtone. When Alexa has been initiated, you can ask a variety of questions orally to get answers and information without looking at your smartwatch or checking your smartphone.
During my demo, I was unable to use a final version of the smartphone app that connects to Focals via Bluetooth to provide all messages and information. But if the final version of the app works as it did when I tried it, I can say that it works well.
A company president claims that the battery life is between 16 and 18 hours for both the frames and the ring control, and when you need to reboot them, simply insert them into a handy bag that doubles as a charger.
Overall, I was impressed by how well the frames look, both in clear frames and with the nuances. This is the kind of frame that many would wear even without a smartglasses component. And while the arms of the frames pound on electronics inside, they are manufactured in a manner that does not immediately give away the fact that they are slightly more than usual frames. Currently, prescription lenses are not available, but the company plans to offer that option in early 2019.
The visual experience itself was not something I could see using daily, mainly because the interface and the images were small, something blurred, and sometimes I felt I had to look at the middle of the frame in an unnatural way. This worried me to possibly cross my eyes (or look like I'm crossing my eyes for viewers) while using the device. One of the on-site opticians claimed, however, that this was probably because I did not go through the entire assembly process that I should have and that a more tailor-made bonding would give better results.
I was surprised by how quiet the company decided to start the product until I found out the price: $ 999. It's a steep price tag for an accessory that at this time gives same type of smartphone-connected application tool that you can find on a $ 200 smartwatch.
But based on the style of the stores (think of Warby Parker but for smart glasses) and the elaborate purchasing process (after assembly you wait eight weeks and have to come back to the store to pick up your Focals), this is probably aimed at a relatively exclusive , early adoption group.
So while I do not expect to see a lot of New Yorkers and Canadians wearing them this winter (mainly because of the price and purchasing process), if there is "interest" for this kind of smartglasses product, it's probably one of the best executives On such a dynamic I can imagine coming from an unknown start. If you wondered when the smart glass war could begin, you could stop waiting, they are here, at least in two places on the planet.